Wind turbine “seismic” vibrations stop windfarm—cold! (UK)

Aug 20, 2011


“Plans for hundreds of wind turbines blocked over claims that vibrations will interfere with recording station”

Editor’s note:  This image was added by

—Rob Edwards, (8/19/11)

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is blocking plans for hundreds of wind turbines because it says their “seismic noise” will prevent the detection of nuclear explosions around the world.

The MoD claims that vibrations from new windfarms across a large area of north-west England and south-west Scotland will interfere with the operation of its seismological recording station at Eskdalemuir, near Lockerbie. The station listens out for countries secretly testing nuclear warheads in breach of the 182-nation Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

At a meeting today, Carlisle council rejected the latest application for six wind turbines at Hallburn Farm, near Longtown, because of the MoD’s objections. The noise from the turbines would increase interference to an unacceptable level, the MoD said.

The company that made the application, REG Windpower, warned that plans for many other windfarms in the area were similarly affected. As much as one gigawatt of renewable power was being held up by the MoD, the company told the Guardian.

This is equivalent to about a quarter of the UK’s current onshore wind capacity, and could make an important contribution to meeting UK targets to cut the pollution that is causing climate change, REG Windpower argued.

But according to the MoD, the swishing blades of wind turbines cause vibrations in the ground that can be detected by the sophisticated monitoring equipment at Eskdalemuir. The UK has an international obligation to protect the operation of the station to help prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, it said.

An expert study for the MoD concluded that although the station could cope with some seismic noise, increasing this beyond a certain level would cause interference. The limit has now been reached so the ministry is objecting to every new wind turbine within 50km of Eskdalemuir.

This has generated frustration among wind power developers because the area has many attractions for them. It has good wind speeds, is sparsely populated and is close to centres of electricity demand.

But REG Windpower’s development director, Matt Partridge, was hopeful of a breakthrough in finding a technical fix for the problem. “We’re optimistic there will soon be a solution,” he said.

One idea is to hang weights like pendulums inside turbine towers to deaden the vibrations from the blades. The MoD promised it would reassess its opposition if there were a proven technological solution.

Eskdalemuir was a “unique facility in the UK”, said an MoD spokesman. “It detects and accurately interprets seismic signals worldwide to detect nuclear explosions and deter the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Wind turbines can affect the readings.”

He added: “The MoD would not object to a planning application without due reason. Objections are only raised where such action is considered vital to adequately protect MoD interests.”

Editor’s note:  For a relevant article, see Infrasound: Noise you can’t hear, but feel—over huge distances.

  1. Comment by C. McLean (Ontario, Canada) on 08/20/2011 at 2:54 pm

    So the industry is finally admitting there are vibrations and all they have to do is hang weights inside like pendulums, no matter if these start swaying with the flex of the tower and start clanging like church bells.

    Are these people for real??

  2. Comment by Dr Sarah Laurie on 08/21/2011 at 10:33 pm

    Isn’t it interesting how evidence of seismic vibrations emitted by the current design of wind turbines put forward by the UK Ministry of Defence is accepted by Planning Authorities in the UK as a reason not to build turbines within 50km of seismic monitoring devices, and yet it is apparently perfectly acceptable to build them close to homes.

    People around the world are describing serious health problems, are “walking with their feet” and abandoning their homes to regain their health, and yet we STILL have the wind industry in denial about “alleged” health problems. We still have no commitment by any government anywhere in the world to properly fund truly independent multidisciplinary scientific acoustic and medical investigation into these important issues, in order to determine a SAFE SETBACK DISTANCE.

    Since when was a “MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS” by experienced Clinicians and Family Physicians from around the world (who have known their patients for years) an ALLEGATION, as they are being described in the media?

    There is sufficient information now, out in the public domain globally, that these wind turbines, when sited too close to homes, are causing serious harm to human health. Just one turbine in a quiet country area is enough to do it (Falmouth, Massachussetts). Those publicly elected officials, public servants and company directors who are allowing this situation to continue need to remember that one day, they will be held accountable.


  3. Comment by Itasca Small on 08/30/2011 at 1:28 am

    I am very glad I finally have returned to your site and found these two items. I haven’t been able to do very much in the wind wars for several months because of health issues whose exacerbation I attribute to Iberdrola’s Dry Lake One Wind Power Plant in Navajo County, Arizona. My friend told you about my issues months ago and you put her in contact with Dr. Laurie in Australia. I haven’t heard anything further from this and from our contact with Rick James about the same time. My health affects are occurring at approximately 11 miles WSW of the 30 – 2.2MW WTs, with others feeling effects, also; some at approximately 11 miles ESE of them. We believe the unique topographical and geological conditions here are enhancing the propagation of the infrasound from the WTs. One geodesic dome house at ~11 miles ESE was affected immediately with vibrations and cracks with the WTs coming online; unfortunately, the owners tried to get relief but were finally intimidated strongly enough to back down from complaining and the husband volunteered for Afghanistan rather than fight the county.

    I can also report specific conditions in which I am affected more immediately and intensely, especially when the wind is out of the west; the very worst being from the northwestern quadrant. Also, it is intense when the wind is out of the west with cloud cover, but the late afternoon and evening sun shining under the clouds and on the WTs. Oh, I can report these facts because in spite of the distance, I can see the WTs from my house due to the open topography. I have been sensitive to low frequencies and infrasound long enough that I can’t remember just how long. When I visited the Dry Lake plant, I was overwhelmed by the infrasonic waves that I could actually perceive as “long, low, harmonic waves.” That was the best I could describe it at first. I had to get away from them as fast as possible because of how they made my body and my mind feel. Well, I just wanted to share this with you because I know you understand. I do see some promising indications that the work you and others are doing is bearing fruit, and I thank God for that and for your work.

    I’m very glad to see this follow-up to the small item we found last year on this seismic detecting site. I believe they reported at that time wanting no more WTs within 10 miles of the station. Obviously, the infrasound is travelling farther than that!

  4. Comment by Donna Tisdale on 11/27/2011 at 4:06 am

    I would like Itasca Small to contact me if she is willing.

    Iberdrola is hard at work destroying our rural community as well, including a General Plan Amendment application for Tule Wind to gut the few protections that San Diego County had allowed us to retain in our recently approved community plan. (Click here for the Tule Wind GPA report.)

    Iberdrola has help from Enel Green Power, Invenergy, Sempra, San Diego Gas & Electric, and others that are planning additional turbine projects in and around our community on public, private, and tribal lands.

    The County just released the revised Wind Energy Ordinance & Plan Amendment DEIR that had to be written by the industry lobby. It is shameless and shocking!

    Donna Tisdale

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